Toothache and self-medication practices: a study of patients attending a niger delta tertiary hospital in Nigeria

Ann Med Health Sci Res. 2014 Nov;4(6):884-8. doi: 10.4103/2141-9248.144896.


Background: There is evidence that self-medication practices among dental patients with toothache are common, and despite the adverse clinical consequences, there is a paucity of literature on it, and only few programs are available for its control.

Aim: The aim was to assess the self-medication practices among adult dental patients suffering from toothache.

Subjects and methods: An instrument adapted from modified form of 117-item self-report questionnaire based on world Health Organization guidelines for students' substance use survey and open-ended questionnaire was administered to adult patients attending the Dental and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinic of this Health Institution for a period of 6 months.

Results: The results show that 80.6% (287/356) subjects indulged in self-medication practices. Majority of the patients 42.9% (123/287) were in the 2-4(th) decades of life, whereas the male: female ratio was 1.3:1. The most commonly abused medications/substance was analgesics/non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (243/287; 24.5%), antibiotics (233/287; 23.5%), "touch and go" (187/287; 18.8%). The practice of self-medication cut across all social strata, P < 0.01 (significant) and only 3.8% (11/287) subjects admitted knowledge of the dosage and side-effects of the used medications/substances. The toothache not being serious initially (112/287; 22.5%) and time constraints to attend dental clinic (93/287; 18.7%) were the major reasons for self-medication.

Conclusion: This study suggests that the practice of self-medication is common among adult dental patients with toothache in Nigeria. This should be reduced to the barest minimum by dental health education, upgrading of dental health facilities, and enforcement of drug control mechanisms.

Keywords: Dental patients; Nigeria; Self-medication; Toothache.